For omnivores, a traditional July 4th BBQ means burgers, hot dogs, and other meaty treats. Think out of the (butcher’s) box this summer, and you’ll be healthier for it.
You might have heard: grilling meat at high temps can cause nasty, carcinogenic heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) to form. That char you love so much on your grilled chicken? Once your meat reaches that level of blackness, the protein has literally transformed into a whole different, cancer-causing chemical.
All You Need Is a Few Good Marinades
If meat IS on your summer grilling menu, there are ways to reduce its harmful byproducts. The simple act of marinating can reduce the concentration of HCAs by up to 99%! The trick is to choose a marinade without added sugars (store-bought commercial barbecue sauces are the worst), preferably one that’s thin and vinegar-based (beer and olive oil can also cut down on carcinogens). As an added bonus, add some herbs from the mint family (basil, mint, rosemary, sage, savory, marjoram, oregano and thyme); they’re rich in antioxidants that can counteract any carcinogens created by grilling. Check this out for more on safer meat grilling.
Or better still…go veggie this 4th! Grilling provides a smoky twist to seasonal produce (and man, is this season’s produce amazing).
And we’re not just talking veggies…grilling fruits is healthy way to soften, sweeten and bring out all their lovely juices. Having friends over? Provide a whole bunch of fruits (peaches, plums, pineapple, bananas and more) and let each person kabob and grill their own picks.
When deciding which fruits and veggies to throw on the grill, keep in mind the Dirty Dozen—those items plagued with the greatest amount of harmful pesticides.